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Hokies in the Coastal Driver's Seat
by Will Stewart, TechSideline.com, TSLMail #457, November 5, 2010
Thursday night's win against Georgia Tech was a critical one, basically eliminating the Yellow Jackets from the Coastal Division race (technically, GT isn't mathematically eliminated) and reducing it to a three-team contest between Virginia Tech, Miami, and North Carolina. If things break the Hokies' way this weekend, the race could be all but over.
Here are the Coastal Division standings after last night's game, plus remaining ACC games for each team:
That reduces the Coastal to a three-team race between VT, Miami, and UNC. This is the biggest development from last night's game, that GT is now a distant fourth, unlikely to make a run to the front.
Virginia Tech's road games against Miami and UNC are huge to the Coastal Division race, but of equal importance is the Hokies' season-ending game against Virginia in Lane Stadium. The Cavaliers have beaten the Hokies just once since the 1998 season, and the possibility of a Virginia victory in Blacksburg is small. The Hokies have to take care of business, but an ACC record of at least 6-2 is all but in the bag.
That means that neither UNC and Miami can lose another game, if they want to stay in the race. Both must beat Virginia Tech and finish 6-2, or find themselves (at best) scoreboard-watching on November 7th, hoping for UVa to beat the Hokies.
So how about this weekend? North Carolina travels to Florida State, where most betting lines have the Seminoles as 10-1/2 point favorites. Lose in Tally, and the Tar Heels are in the same position Georgia Tech finds themselves in: three losses and all but gone.
Miami hosts Maryland in Coral Gables this weekend. Don't laugh; the Terps could win this one. The Hurricanes haven't been impressive this season, getting physically beaten at Virginia, and Miami just found out that they'll be without starting quarterback Jacory Harris for the next two games (Maryland, @GT), and he might not be back for the Virginia Tech game.
That means the Canes will play true freshman QB Stephen Morris against a Maryland defense that ranks 26th in the nation in total defense (320.4 ypg) and 27th in scoring defense (19.8 pgg). The Maryland offense is getting it done with smoke and mirrors, ranking 94th in total offense (323.8 ypg) but 37th in scoring (31.5 ppg).
The Terrapins are 3-1 in the ACC and are still in the thick of the Atlantic Division race, so they'll go down to Miami with a purpose. The Canes don't strike us as a team with a lot of heart, but you never know how teams will respond to adversity, especially when playing at home.
So the big Coastal Division games this weekend for Hokie fans to keep an eye on are Maryland at Miami (noon, ESPNU) and UNC at Florida State (3:30 PM, ABC). If both of those break the Hokies' way, Virginia Tech's Coastal title hopes will be turbocharged coming out of the weekend, with a nearly-insurmountable three-game lead over everyone else.
In the Atlantic, in addition to one-loss teams FSU and Maryland playing Coastal foes, fellow one-loss team NC State travels to Clemson (noon, ACC Network). The Atlantic rep to Charlotte will be one of those three teams.
Wilson Shoots Up the Kickoff Return Standings
With last night's 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, David Wilson is the only FBS football player to have two kickoff return TDs on the season.
Wilson also took a big leap up the
kickoff return rankings. Going into last night's game, he was ranked #54 in the
nation at 24.47 yards per return. Wilson now has 16 returns for 457 yards, which
is 28.56 yards per return. That vaults him up to #10 in the nation as of this
Tech Snowman Wreath
VT holiday wreath with plush snowmen. Approximately 20"
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